To my excitement, Mr V and I were recently invited to review Woods Brasserie in Cardiff Bay. Part of the Knife and Fork Food group, contemporary restaurant Woods has been on my ‘to do list’ for quite sometime.
We arrived to an already busy reception but were greeted quickly and our coats were taken. The decor was very much my favoured style. Classy and contemporary but also a bit quirky. Feature walls of retro patterned wallpaper stood out along with pink walls and bright green seats and were complimented nicely by other more neutral colours and wooden tables and chairs.
After being welcomed at the door, we were welcomed again when we took our seats and then again by the person taking our drink orders. Everyone was very attentive and efficient throughout the evening but not so much so that it felt annoying or too formal like it sometimes can. Woods have managed to create a perfect blend of upmarket dining that is still relaxed, stylish and contemporary.
There were two menus to choose from. An A la Carte menu and a Table d hote menu which was very reasonably priced at £20 for 3 courses. We chose the A la Carte menu because although the other menu was perfectly fine, there were a few dishes that we really wanted to try that were only available on the A la Carte menu.
One of these was the Caramelized Ox Cheek and Foie Gras Ballontine which was served with carrot, star anise pickle and crispy bread. It was exceptional and possibly one of the best starters I’ve had for a long while. The ox cheek was beautifully cooked. It was tender, smooth and sweet with a thin crisp of sugar on top. The foie gras was delicious. My only complaint was that it could have been warmer.
Mr V was the lucky owner of the ox starter but mine was also high quality. I opted for the Smoked Mackerel and Dill Choux Buns with Sardines and Tomato dressing. Although I like them, I’ve never quite got the hype around profiteroles but with fish…much more up my street! They were light, airy and delicious. The star of the dish for me though was the sardine and tomato dressing which was the perfect accompaniment.
Moving onto the mains, we were quite excited by the selection. However, the starters had set the bar very high and the mains were not quite at the same level, although still very good. Mr V chose the Slow Braised Blade of Beef with Roasted Carrot, Spelt and Wild Garlic with Braising Liquor. The beef was very well cooked and fell apart with a breath but Mr V felt that it just lacked some punch of flavour.
I continued along a fish theme and opted for the Loch Duart Salmon, Welsh Breakfast Garnish (Serrano crisp, Lavabread, Leeks and Cockle Butter). The salmon was beautifully cooked and encased in the Serrano ham. The soft salmon was perfect with the crunchy lava bread but I didn’t think the ham added anything. The leeks and cockle butter on the other hand were an excellent addition.
We added a side order of seasonal green vegetables and a side of mash potato with our mains as recommended by our waitress. This brought our mains up to £15 and £18 respectively which we felt was a little expensive for the latter but fortunately the desserts and starters were a much more reasonable price.
The dessert menu looked very appealing but we were quite full so we decided to share the Lemon, Pistachio and Poppy Seed Cake with Tarragon Mascarpone. I wanted to try this because I adore lemon cake but also because I like food that pushes the boundaries and I felt that the tarragon element was quite unusual.
The cake was crunchy and sweet and was complimented by the creamy mascarpone. The tarragon made it appear light and fresh and was the perfect end to a filling meal.
Reflecting on the evening, we were very impressed. I love the decor and the atmosphere was spot on. The menu had clearly been planned with thought and precision and boasted some unusual dishes. Chatting to Restaurant Manager Francoise after the meal, we learnt Head Chef Wesley Hammond designed the menus and where possible, local ingredients are sourced. They like to have a Welsh twist on some traditional dishes, like my salmon main course.
The only complaint I have which is a general whinge nowadays is the addition of side dishes which I really think should be part of a meal. Other than that, we enjoyed our meal and the overall experience and will definitely be returning.
My last Mouthful was: Caramelized ox cheek and foie gras ballotine
Atmosphere and Decor-
Quality of food-
Diversity of menu-
Value for money-
For more reviews and a list of all the green spoon businesses in Cardiff please see the Your Last Mouthful website